In a sport as tumultuous as bodybuilding, it’s always a breath of fresh air when athletes discuss the finer details of their craft together. In a recent interview, Flex Wheeler, Chris Cormier, and Milos Sarcev join Dennis James to discuss the present dangers in the sport and what can be done to enhance its safety.
Since 2021, a growing number of deaths have plagued the bodybuilding community. 2018 Mr. Olympia Shawn Rhoden died last year at 46 years old. Tragedy continued rolling in as George “Da Bull” Peterson died before competing at 2021 Olympia. As of late, the sport has been paralyzed in a state of grief following a number of recent deaths. Last month, Cedric McMillan tragically died at age 44, which inadvertently sparked widespread discussion about how to make the sport safer.
Making matters worse, younger bodybuilders are also dying. In late April, Figure and Bikini bodybuilder Stacey Cummings was found dead at age 31. With reform on the mind of the masses, four-time Arnold Classic Flex Wheeler, perennial contender Chris Cormier and one of the sharpest minds in the sport, Milos Sarcev joined forces to discuss what can be done to bring about a safer sport.
The Group Discuss Deaths in Bodybuilding and Growing Concerns with PEDs
During a recent interview with Dennis James, the group of bodybuilders sit down to address some of the ongoing issues affecting the sport. In addition, the group reflected on the tragic death of the late Cedric McMillan.
“We lost so many people in the last two years and just recently Cedric McMillan, rest in peace. I mean, what do you guys think is going on, and more importantly, what do you guys think needs to happen. I don’t even know if it can be prevented or slowed down. What is your guys’ opinion?” Dennis James asked.
According to Chris Cormier, the problem is simple, there’s too much stress on the heart, and the problem only gets worse the bigger an athlete gets.
“These guys are pushing a lot more, not how it is in the gym, but they’re putting a lot more stress on the heart. I feel like these bodybuilders are way bigger than what they were.” Chris Cormier responded.
“Well they are always looking for something to take, some kind of new design or something. I mean, you can stick with just a certain amount or a certain types, but then there’s always some kind of new thing. ‘Oh, you heard of this LCC7 blah blah’.” Cormier said.
Flex Wheeler chimed in and explained that the drug use climate has changed drastically since his time competing as an IFBB Pro.
“Even back in our day, we didn’t even have Tren. There was Tren but Parabolan was cleaner than tren.” Flex Wheeler said.
“Parabolan was our go-to drug. You can take it for extensive times, it didn’t have any heart damage and it didn’t have all these crazy side-effects like Tren. With Tren you can only run it for four weeks and then you have to get off. Flex said. I’m like ‘why?’ And they say because it’s toxic and I’m like ‘what!’. There were some things back in our day that you knew that you could only take this for 2-3 weeks and then you have to get off.” Flex said.
While athletes used to wonder about training and diet, Flex believes people have gotten away from that and only care about hearing what someone’s cycle is, especially if they compete at the professional level.
My point is, I think it’s obvious that it’s more of a drug world now. Because we traveled the world, and what was some of the first questions we get from all around the world: “What drugs do you take?” It’s not about back in our era when we were going to seminars, we want to know about their diets and training. How did they diet, how did they train, how did they do this. You go to any seminar now, and I guarantee you, one of the top ten questions is going to be what kind of steroids.” Flex Wheeler continued.
“It just wasn’t the first thing. Listen, even though I have a strict reason or reasons why I don’t talk about drugs because I know others watch us, and I know kids are going to go out and try our cycles, thinking that they are going to be the next me. That’s the main reason why I don’t talk about it.” Flex said.
Flex revealed that he wouldn’t talk to many cohorts about his experiences with PEDs. If he were to discuss the matter, he chose to speak with decorated bodybuilding coach Charles Glass.
“Very seldom did we ever have a pow-wow where we talked about it individually with each other. I would talk to Ronnie, I would talk to Charles Glass about it. Look at how close me and Chris was. We never sat down, and he never fully told me what he did on his diet. So it was just something we didn’t talk about amongst each other.” Flex Wheeler said.
With more drugs available, Flex maintains that there were some Bikini and Fitness female bodybuilders who were taking more gear than he was.
“Listen, there’s some bikini competitors, and damn, there was some fitness competitors who run bigger cycles than I ever did in my life.” Wheeler stated.
Similar to a point Charles Glass drove home a few weeks ago, drugs and counterfeit drugs have become a growing problem in the fitness industry, according to Milos Sarcev.
“Back in the 90s, it was pharmaceutical grade. You get something that is from the pharmacy. You know what you’re taking. Now, it’s underground, god knows. Like Chris said, you have some names that you can’t even pronounce.” Milos Sarcev said.
Chris Cormier Warns Bodybuilders: “You’re putting a lot of stress on your heart on a daily basis”
Given the startling number of deaths in the sport-related to heart problems, Cormier maintains that heart health is the biggest key to longevity.
“I just feel like pay close attention to that heart. You’re pumping it and putting a lot of stress on the heart. I feel like that’s going to be the biggest thing, is wise guys, you’ve been pumping for a lot of years.” Cormier said.
“So, if your training, you’re taking creatine, taking whatever. You’re putting a lot of stress on your heart on a daily basis. I think paying close attention to your heart, the function of the heart, I think that’s one of the biggest keys right there. A lot of those guys, didn’t they say, he had heart complications not too long ago. Cedric. Okay, then you got to pack it in at that point. I understand the mentality to have, but it’s just not the right mentality for health.” Cormier said.
“The damage is done but still, on the way, there’s got to be something, some kind of test to help you know what’s going on with your body.” Cormier added.
Milos, Dennis, and Flex Wheeler Discuss Roid-Rage
Abusing PEDs can result in aggressive behavior. While Milos and Flex Wheeler don’t remember getting too angry, Dennis admits ‘roid-rage’ incidences happened only when he had to drive.
‘Yeah, me neither. You’re dieting for a show, fuc**n starved, no carbs. Angry because we are miserable. I really cannot say that they make me more aggressive”. Milos said.
“Yeah, let me take it back. I didn’t get aggressive or get into arguments, no not stuff like that but I felt that I maybe had a different edge in traffic. Driving. I’d be roid-raging like a motherfuc**r.” Dennis James shared.
Flex doesn’t remember getting too angry while competing professionally but mentioned that he’s always been a hothead and ultra-aggressive, courtesy of his time fighting when he was younger.
“I’m just ultra-aggressive anyway. I think that’s just my childhood, getting my ass handed to me so many times. I looked over, and I got ultra-aggressive as I fought more and competed in fighting more. I didn’t get into arguments with people. As arrogant as I was, it was just a persona that I created. But all of you guys could say I never tried to pounce on a little person or take advantage of a person. I was never like a dick to a person. I may act like I don’t know you.” Wheeler said.
Steroids have been a hot issue following the alarmingly high rate of deaths in the sport. One such answer to the problem came in the form Seth Feroce. He believes bodybuilders are playing with fire and that steroids will kill anyone, it’s only a matter of when.
With the sport in the process of healing after so many deaths ravaged the community, it’s great to see prominent bodybuilders voicing their opinions to foster a safer work environment. After Dennis sat down with the group, it seemed unanimous that one of the overarching problems with bodybuilding is poor heart health.